The Federal Government’s plans to establish an Illicit Tobacco Taskforce headed by the Australian Border Force has been met with mixed reaction in Cobram.
The taskforce will be supported by the ATO and will focus on investigations and intelligence gathering in an attempt to dismantle illicit tobacco supply chains.
The government hopes to raise about $3.6billion in additional revenue over four years using the taskforce.
The announcement follows the introduction of a legislative reform package earlier this year aimed at increasing penalties for criminals found guilty of illicit tobacco offences.
The announcement also follows the recent release of a KPMG report which found illicit tobacco had increased to 15 per cent of the total tobacco consumed in Australia in 2017, marking a significant increase from the previous year.
A Cobram businessman said tougher laws were a great idea provided they were enforced.
‘‘Unless the laws are going to be enforced, people won’t follow them and will continue operating as they always have,’’ he said.
‘‘We know there are illegal traders in town and they need to keep being raided until they get the message that it’s not on.
‘‘Illegal shops continuing to operate is a kick in the guts for all legitimate businesses in town. Why should law-abiding businesses have to put up with this?’’
The business owner also said it would be helpful if Cobram residents refused to support illegal sellers of tobacco.
‘‘I understand why people go to illegal sellers, because it’s cheaper,’’ he said.
‘‘But they must remember the legitimate businesses are the ones who donate to local causes and sponsor sporting clubs.
‘‘We can’t do that if we don’t get support from locals.’’